Reading through Bill Connelly's preview of the Wolfpack and the comments, I ended up on a mental tangent about Dick Sheridan, because it struck me just how improbable and outstanding his tenure here was. He inherited a team that went 3-8 three seasons in a row and won eight games in his first year.
Sheridan's coaching arc was much different than Beamer's--it took Beamer half a decade to dig Virginia Tech out of obscurity. I don't mean the comparison in that way. I just wonder if, like Beamer, Sheridan might have leveled-up an unheralded and resource-lacking football program through strong coaching at first and a growing national profile later.
The latter never had a chance to happen, unfortunately; Sheridan left coaching abruptly following the 1992 season because of health concerns. NC State was 40-19-2 over his final five years.
"It's the toughest thing I've ever had to do," Sheridan said at the time of his retirement. "I ain't going to hold together much longer."
He was only 51 years old then. He could have led the program for another decade at least, if his health cooperated, and who knows where we would be now? The team was okay in the immediate aftermath of Sheridan's departure but was suffering by the time his players had graduated. He won with unusual regularity despite a tame football culture, little history, and no facilities.
If he had been able to coach NC State through, say, the early 2000s, how much do you think that would have altered the trajectory of the program?